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June 16, 2017 | 3 min. read

New Research: Yup, You Should Still Ask More Questions

Article Highlights

  1. Just this year, Harvard Business School found that people that ask a lot of questions (at least nine) are found to be far more likable than those that ask only a few questions (at most four).
  2. In general, it’s far better to ask more questions on a discovery call than fewer. Success rates were higher for sales reps that asked between eleven and fourteen questions than those that asked fewer.
  3. Top performers ask an average of 10.1 questions regarding key topics per hour of conversation. The average performer is only asking 6.3 of those important questions. So cut to the chase quickly, your prospects will appreciate it.

With so much about consumers and technology changing, it’s always jarring to find something that stays the same. And while certain sales strategies have certainly changed, the old adage of “ask a lot of questions,” keeps holding strong, confirmed by more and more studies each year.

Just this year, Harvard Business School found that people that ask a lot of questions (at least nine) are found to be far more likable than those that ask only a few questions (at most four). Pretty interesting, right? Don’t you think so? Do you like me now? Is this working?

And these findings hold true in even the most specific settings. Just last week we published new research in collaboration with Gong.io that found that on discovery calls, the more questions you ask, the higher your success rate.

research ask more questions

The Question Sweet Spot

In general, it’s far better to ask more questions on a discovery call than fewer. Success rates were higher for sales reps that asked between eleven and fourteen questions than those that asked fewer.

However, there is a limit to how much interrogation customers can endure. Success rates begin to drop as the number of questions asked exceeds fourteen. This makes a lot of sense for two reasons:

1) Gather enough information: The first, and probably most obvious reason asking more questions yields higher success rates is that more questions give you a better understanding of the prospect and their situation. The better you understand them, the more value you can provide.

2) Make a connection: The less obvious benefit comes from the Harvard Business School study cited above. People that ask more questions are more likable. Everyone likes to be the center of attention and conversation. Providing your prospect this opportunity can create a stronger connection.

Big Talk, Not Small Talk

It’s not just the volume of questions that impact success rates. The content of those questions also matters. While it can be easy to allow your discovery calls to be filled with friendly small talk and plenty of inane questions that pad the question totals you’re now concerned with, top performers ask more questions about key topics than average performers.

research ask more questions

Top performers ask an average of 10.1 questions regarding key topics per hour of conversation. The average performer is only asking 6.3 of those important questions. So cut to the chase quickly, your prospects will appreciate it.


Want event more data about what makes the best discovery call? Download the full report for free today!

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